How to Keep Your Animals Safe in Hot Temps – And What You Can Do to Help Others

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While people try to find ways to keep cool, it’s also important to make sure your pets do, too.

“You’ve got to watch your dog and read your dog and make sure they’re not overheating in this weather,” said dog owner Craig Bergeron.

During this heat wave, Bergeron knows to keep a close eye on his two-year-old pup Darla and limit her time outside. It seems many others followed suit.

It was a quiet day at the Glastonbury Dog Park with no one there, and Bloomfield Animal Hospital owner and Chief of Staff Dr. Andrea Dennis said that’s a good thing with these high temperatures.

“Leaving a pet outside in 94 degrees, 70% humidity, that’s potentially fatal,” Dennis said. “They don’t have the capability of regulating their temperature. They don’t have sweat glands other than their paws or panting, and it’s just asking their bodies to work too hard.”

Dennis said there are several signs to watch out for when it comes to heat-related illness. That includes excessive panting, drooling, agitation, bright red gums or a bright red tongue, and your pet collapsing. When you see those symptoms, Dennis says you need to act fast by calling your vet and slowly cooling your pet down.

“You don't want to pick them up and put them in a bath water filled with ice. Take some towels, wet them down, put them over your pet. Cats can get this, too, by the way. So you want to put them over your pet, and if you can, even have a fan while you try to get that body temperature down,” Dennis said.

“If you can do that while you're gathering yourself, getting help to bring your pet to an emergency hospital because they do need to go on IV fluids before they go into shock," she continued.

And dogs can die if left inside cars during this hot weather. In Connecticut, if you see a pet in a car in imminent danger, you can enter the vehicle by force to remove the animal. You need to call police, but you will not face criminal or civil consequences.

Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter Program Coordinator Lena Carlson said owners who leave their pet in a hot car can certainly see penalties.

“You can face charges for animal cruelty, animal abuse if you are knowingly leaving your pet inside hazardous conditions,” Carlson said.

Carlson said they do get calls from concerned people about dogs left outside. In extreme weather, it’s illegal to tether a dog outside alone for more than 15 minutes, and untethered dogs outside alone for more than 15 minutes need adequate shelter and water.

Dennis said older pets, obese pets, short-nose breeds like pugs, and pets closer to the ground are at higher risk for heatstroke.

The ground can also cause burns on an animal’s paws, so keep them in shaded or grassy areas.

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